Katherine MacDonald

Katherine Agnew MacDonald (December 14, 1891[1][2]–June 4, 1956) was an American actress and film producer. She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Katherine MacDonald
MacDonald, c. 1922
Katherine Agnew MacDonald

(1891-12-14)December 14, 1891
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
DiedJune 4, 1956(1956-06-04) (aged 64)
Santa Barbara, California, United States
OccupationActress, film producer, model
Spouse(s)K. Malcolm Struss
(1910–1919; div.)
Charles S. Johnston
(1924–26; div.); 1 son
Christian R. Holmes
(1928–31; div.); 1 daughter
RelativesMary MacLaren (sister)
AwardsHollywood Walk of Fame


Starting her career as a popular model in New York City in the 1910s, MacDonald moved to Los Angeles in 1917. She became one of the first women to produce films in Hollywood, and produced nine features for her company, Katherine MacDonald Pictures, from 1919–21.

MacDonald was among the top ranks of actresses financially in 1920, earning about $50,000 per picture from a contract with First National. She achieved the peak of her popularity between 1920 and 1923. From 1922-25 produced by B. P. Schulberg.[3]

However, she was considered only a minor talent in the film industry, although her curvaceous figure resulted in the nickname of the "American Beauty".[4]

Her first significant role was her lead role in Shark Monroe (1918) opposite William S. Hart. She would be featured in a number of silent films, including The Squaw Man (1918), Mr. Fix-It (1918), Passion's Playground (1920) and The Infidel (1922). Her films typically were romantic dramas. MacDonald only made two pictures after 1923, one each in 1925 and 1926.

Personal life

MacDonald had a public feud with her sister, fellow actress Mary MacLaren, five years her junior.

While working as a model in New York City, Katherine met her first husband, artist K. Malcolm Struss. They married in 1910 but the marriage was short-lived, and they officially divorced in 1919. She married Charles S. Johnston, a young Chicago millionaire, in 1924 and they soon had one son, Britt. They divorced in 1926.

In 1928 she married Christian Rasmus Holmes (1898-1944),[5] an heir to the Fleischmann's yeast company, but that marriage ended in a sensational divorce suit in 1931. MacDonald claimed cruelty—that her husband had fired a revolver at her through a locked door, had deliberately burnt her with lit cigarettes, and had sometimes locked her in a cage. Holmes counter-sued, claiming that MacDonald had embarrassed him by having affairs. MacDonald and Holmes had one daughter, Ann.[4]

After leaving the movie industry MacDonald ran a successful cosmetics business in the late 1920s and early 1930s.[4]

Her statistics list her height as 5 ft 8 in (173 cm) with a weight of 130 pounds (59 kg), with brown hair and blue eyes. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6777 Hollywood Boulevard.



  1. The Ultimate Directory of the Silent Screen Performers: A Necrology of Births and Deaths and Essays on 50 Lost Players; edited by Anthony Slide, Scarecrow Press, c.1995
  2. The Ultimate Directory of Film Technicians; A Necrology of Dates and Places of Births and Deaths of More than 9,000 Producers, Screenwriters, Composers, Cinematographers, Art Directors, Costume Designers, Choreographers, Executives and Publicists; Scarecrow Press, 1999
  3. IMDb profile, imdb.com; accessed October 5, 2017.
  4. Larry Lee Holland, "Mary MacLaren and Katherine MacDonald" Films in Review (1985), pp. 221-27
  5. Ancestry.com
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